Artist Interviews 2021
By Julia Siedenburg
Snakebitartstudion aka Matt James, is a native australian comic artist genius. His colored as well as black and white pieces let you assume he is already a big professional comic artist working for the leading studios.
His extremely detailed shading and beautiful color work is what made me fall in love with his work. From X-men to Frasiers character in the popular mumie movies to Venom and the joker and also a few unknown characters : Matt’s portfolio shows a variety of everything.
Come and dive deep into this artist's thoughts, inspirations and find out his plans for the future in this article. Enjoy.
What does art mean to you?
Art is a lot of things to me – I love to study art and artists, I use it de-stress and as a creative outlet, and of course, as a career. It has always been in my life in one way or another as far back as I can remember..
The details on your pieces are incredible. Do you draw out of memories or based on references>?
I use reference for nearly everything – I find that no matter how well I think I can remember something, I always miss some detail. I am a big believer in making your own reference and making use of mixing references to generate something unique. I never stick too closely to reference (unless I am doing something like a study of an image) - but it is definitely a must to keep things looking somewhat realistic.
Any big comic artists or animators you look up to?
Most of my early heroes are people like Jim Lee, Marc Silvestri and David Finch – then as I got older, I studied a wider range of artists, people like Brom, Frazetta, Julie Bell, Moebius and Karl Kopinksi became big influences. Once I started working professionally in comics, I became interested in the artists that do the inking and colouring, and tend to go a little more unnoticed – people like Marte Gracia, and Joe Weems... I could all day with artists whose work I love.
Which is your favorite comic book series?
I started reading comics when titles like GI Joe and the X-Men where huge at Marvel – so they have always been my favourite series. Now I tend to follow artists more than titles.
Your pieces vary from black and white to vibrant and colorful. Which characters is your favorite to draw?
My favourites tend to be the more science fiction characters – I really enjoy stuff like Star Wars. Another favourite is Horror characters. I don’t get a ton of opportunities to work on those types of characters – but when I do, they are my favourites.
Tell us a little bit about your background and childhood? Has art always been a part of your life?
Some of my earliest memories are of drawing – my grandfather would give me these giant sheets of butcher’s paper – and I would use them to draw huge dioramas of knights and castles, or the Battle of Britain and stuff like that. That was when people started encouraging me to get into art, so it became a focus through school – and eventually I went to university and earned a Degree in Illustration.
Did your drawing start with doodling and involve into this? In other words: self taught or born with it?
I think like most kids, I just started with rudimentary playing with shapes and colours, and eventually I started trying to draw what I saw in books or on TV. From there I started taking art classes in high school, and eventually taking it through to higher education – even now I spend hours and hours watching artist on YouTube or reading concept art books, and comics trying to pick up new techniques and ideas. So, I guess you could it is a combination of the two. I have definitely benefited from having some great art teachers in my life to help direct me towards improvement.
The comics started to shine and get the recognition they deserve once Marvel and DC released the movies and now TV shows. How did you feel about that change? Did anything change for you?
I’m always excited to see comics being introduced to a wider audience – just because it is a medium I love. Professionally, the success of comic IP in the movies has opened a lot of doors to commissioned work that may not have been there for me before, which is awesome.
You did some great illustrations and paintings as well. When do you decide you rather paint than draw? Is it based on motivation? Your current mood? Needing something different to do?
I guess when I have the time to do something personal it is just what ever mood strikes me. Because I spend so much time working on contracted comic inking or colouring, when I get some free time, I like to stretch my painting muscles a little bit – as well as just draw whatever it is I have in my sketch books I’ve been thinking about as an idea, or composition etc. I do occasionally get commissioned to do a painting too, so that is always a change to change it up a little bit.
What is next? What is something that you really look forward to?
Right now, I am working on colouring a graphic novel for a company here in Australia, after that, I have some cover work coming up for a couple of international comic companies – and I am hoping to squeeze in a little time work on a few personal projects to try some techniques out that I have been itching to get into.